Steelpan Arranger
Robert Tobitt - Steelpan Arranger

Robert Tobitt

 

Robert Tobitt -
Tobago Pan-Thers, T&T Defence Force

Panorama Championships
click for more on Robert Tobitt

right click for bio

"I started playing the steel pan In 1979 at Barataria Senior Comprehensive School which turned out to be something that I really loved to do because it made my mind free from all the negative things that were happening around me, I became the Captain of the School Orchestra by the time I was in Form Five and entered the School Music Festival as a Soloist placing third overall, this was a great achievement for me.

"I played with Solo Harmonites' stage side where I further developed my skill of playing the steel pan and started touring to other countries. After leaving school I joined the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force on the 12th April 1983.

"In 1987, I joined the Pan Jammers Steel Orchestra and was elected as a committee member, and the following year as the band’s captain. It was at this point in my music life that I started arranging music for a Steel orchestra.

"1991 to 1992 was the year that the Ministry Of Community Development, Culture and Women Affairs held a Steel Pan Technology Course at which I obtained a certificate in the making and tuning of the Steel Pan.

"During this course, I met someone by the name of Guido Huber from Switzerland, he was here in Trinidad to purchase a Steel Pan and became part of the course for two weeks.  I started giving him Steel Pan lessons, as he was interested in learning more about the art form. He returned to Trinidad the following year with his wife and again I gave them both lessons, only this time they were learning songs to take back to Switzerland to form a band of their own.

"In 1994 I was invited to Switzerland to conduct Steel Pan workshops and Seminars, which turned out to be an ongoing process, I arranged music for different bands in and around Switzerland, giving private lessons, teaching pan skills and improvising, and also played along with Guido’s band which was called “Out Of Paradise.”  With his band, Guido released a Compact Disk Album called “Odyssey in Steel.”  You can see my name featuring on “Odyssey in Steel” as the arranger of a few songs.

"In 1995, I was privileged to be one of the ten (10) foundation members that formed the Trinidad And Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra. Today this Orchestra has crossed several milestones and is the only military marching Steel Orchestra in the world. The Defence Force Steel Orchestra has achieved a ‘beaver’ (1997 to 2000), winning in the St. Peter’s Day Celebration - playing a gospel song in calypso form - music that I had all arranged.

"Here in the Defence Force I continued with my arranging skills, which I had started.  Very soon the band was at a point where we were in demand for engagements. We started touring the international scene, making waves wherever we went.  Some of the countries we traveled to were Australia, Scotland, Germany, Martinique, Ireland, Malta, New York, Canada, Switzerland and Antigua. The band also produced a CD titled “Real Unity” after one of the songs I arranged; this was followed by "Live in Baltimore," which was recorded while touring Virginia. The band also recorded a Christmas CD, which was released in 2009.

"In March 2000, I was invited to Panama to conduct Steel Pan workshops and seminars, where for the first time the people of the country were able to hear and observe the instrument.  I taught children and adults for seven weeks, hoping that the culture of Trinidad and Tobago would be planted in another country. They were shown videos of Trinidad Carnival and the National Steel Band Panorama.

"It was here that I was inspired to produce the CD “Hello” after performing with very talented musicians like Bernardo Murray, Mario Becabunco, Regis Boyce, Ricky Staple and Renaldo.  I went on to produce other albums called “A Touch Of Latin,” “ Caribbean Christmas,” “Meditation on Steel,” “Island In The Sun,” “Tribute To the King Of Pop Michael Jackson,” “Queen of my Heart,” “Gospel Melodies on Steel” and “My Spirit is Music.”

"I was invited to perform in Japan at a wedding reception by a friend who bought one of my CDs when he visited Trinidad; it was an honor to be a part of that reception.  I attended the University of The West Indies for two years between 2004 and 2006 where I did the Certificate for Pan course, which comprised of reading music, composing, pan arranging, history, and ethnomusicology.

"In 2011, I arranged for the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra for the Single Pan Band competition placing 2nd overall in the grand finals, in 2012 placing 3rd, and in 2013 placed 2nd.

"I developed my skill of playing and over the years I started performing as a Soloist (one person band). I provide my own sound system if needed, and can provide background music for any type of function while playing on the Steel Pan."

 

 
When Steel Talks shirts
now available!
Order yours now! When Steel Talks -- Shopping